Johannesburg – A fire that ravaged South Africa’s parliament has been contained after strong winds had reignited the blaze, firefighters said on Tuesday.
The fire began in the early hours on Sunday and devastated much of the parliament complex before it was declared under control on Monday morning. But strong winds reignited the blaze late in the afternoon.
“Firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze that erupted late yesterday afternoon just before five,” firefighters spokesman Jermaine Carelse told AFP.
“The fire was fanned by a strong south-easterly wind but firefighters managed to contain the fire just before 12:00 last night,” he said.
“This morning, just before five, there was a small flare but firefighters managed to extinguish that blaze,” he said, adding that some 20 firefighters remained on the scene to monitor the situation throughout the day.
A 49-year-old man who had been arrested on Sunday inside the parliament building was to appear in court on Tuesday charged with “housebreaking, arson” and damaging state property.
No casualties have been reported in the fire, but the damage to the nation’s parliament has shocked the country.
The fire started at around 05:00 (0300 GMT) Sunday in the wood-panelled older part of the complex — a section that once housed South Africa’s first parliament.
Completed in 1884, the historic section is where parliament keeps treasures including around 4,000 heritage and artworks, some dating back to the 17th century.
The older section’s roof was completely destroyed, but the priceless collection of books and artworks was believed to have been spared.
The fire then spread to the neighbouring newer National Assembly and a third building housing the upper house National Council of Provinces.
Picture: Getty Images